At Protech, we’ve reviewed some of the strategies adopted by the world’s leading awarding organisations within the Federation of Awarding Bodies directory and combined it with the advice we’re giving to clients in this sector to assemble the following list. It’s more important than ever for these organisations to engage with learners but this can be a challenge, especially if their qualifications are delivered offline through centres. Adapting this strategy and providing other value-added services is vital to maintaining revenue.
- Diversify the way in which exams are delivered: Delivering qualifications that are usually held offline or in centre locations is a key challenge for awarding bodies. One option is to convert popular exams to an online e-assessment model where learners can take the exam at a time to suit them. Where an open book exam model has been used, we noted that many questions were uploaded to portal areas that gave learners a certain time frame to complete their answer.
- Learner engagement: Consistent communication with learners around the status of their exams is vital. Virtually all awarding bodies do this, but we found one leading organisation that went the extra mile. They did not have the capability to provide their exams online so were forced to use an expected grade calculation for some of their exams but provided a thorough video explanation to show exactly how these were calculated. Strategies such as this are a great way of informing learners in an engaging, interactive way.
- Undertake centre visits remotely: If you offer qualifications through centres, it’s important to maintain engagement with key contacts across all institutions. Within our research we found that many organisations had switched to remote visits to achieve this. Understanding the restrictions in place for your centres is important, particularly if they are located in other parts of the world
- Frequently asked questions: Protech has researched and published an FAQ page on our website to provide guidance for awarding organisations during this stressful period. Offering a similar information resource to your learners will not only provide value by helping them, it will also reduce the demand on your own customer services teams.
- Discounted products and services: Providing small discounts on high-demand products and services will help greatly with maintaining revenue. Right now, products such as online qualifications, training courses, eLearning and other CPD style activities are popular with many people who have free time and wish to progress their career. Helping to make this affordable for learners could pay dividends in other areas. Consider providing a mixture of free and paid learning in various styles to engage them and drive interest in other areas of your business.
- Web Chat, email and telephone Support: Providing a variety of support channels is vital for awarding organisations and they need to be clearly signposted everywhere. Learners should be first directed to your website’s FAQ pages and if their query is not listed, they should be encouraged to get in contact with you via the channel with which they feel most comfortable.
- Valuable, relevant resources: The provision of resources on key industry trends that resonate with learners can add a great deal of value. Providing this via branded marketing materials, social media, video channels or within webinars is ideal. During our research, we found one leading professional body that divided the topics from their cancelled annual conference into a webinar series so that members could learn about them in bite-sized chunks.
- CPD Career Development Activities: The current economic downturn will probably have a longer-term impact on learners’ career growth. This is a key opportunity for awarding organisations to help and we are seeing CPD and learning opportunities being heavily marketed today. If you offer these types of services, focusing on the outcomes of new qualification and further learning is vital to engaging, retaining and recruiting learners. It’s also important to demonstrate your ability to provide a higher quality learning experience which requires efficient, innovative websites and portals to achieve.
- Push the membership concept: Awarding organisations that offer services in addition to their qualifications are likely to generate further revenue. A membership model with value-added benefits such as CPD activities and events should be considered. Look to your CRM and digital partner to help deliver these on your website via a self-service approach that doesn’t overwhelm your administration staff. In our research, those organisations that offered membership were best able to promote high-demand services such as online events and CPD activities